Mindfulness after cancer treatment

Mindfulness after cancer treatment

The impact of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) for adolescents and young adults after cancer treatment on psychosocial parameters: an exploratory study (Boost Your Mind).

Cancer types
  • Blood cancer
  • Solid tumours
Trial phase


ACF donation
Trial cost

Why this trial?

Adolescent and young adult cancer (AYAC) survivors experience more complex, more severe and longer-lasting emotional distress than children or adults with similar diagnoses. Besides dealing with the consequences of their illnesses and treatments, puberty also complicates AYAC survivors’ lives. The depression, anxiety, or other forms of distress they experience often become worse years after cancer treatment has ended. However, the psychosocial needs of these patients have remained largely unmet. Research concerning AYAC survivors focussing on symptom management after treatment has ended is scarce and more age-appropriate interventions were needed.

Why this intervention?

The origin of mindfulness (an intervention - not a drug) lies in Buddhism, growing from the philosophy that worrying about the past and the future leads to distress. In recent years, research has explored the effects of mindfulness training on young adults. A study of more than 400 adolescents in Flemish schools revealed that young adults who had followed mindfulness training scored better psychologically, and that these improvements were visible even 6 months after the end of the training sessions. Furthermore, mindfulness did not only help prevent mental health problems, but also alleviated psychological problems.

Trial design

In this exploratory trial, 4 Belgian centres recruited 16 AYAC survivors, aged 14 to 24, who had completed cancer treatment. After 2 baseline assessments, patients followed an 8-week mindfulness training course. Patients were evaluated twice: at one week and three months after mindfulness training. The primary objective was to improve quality of life and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.


Multilevel modelling showed (1) a significant reduction in emotional distress and improvement in quality of life at 3 months of follow-up, (2) a significant reduction in negative attitudes toward self (i.e., a cognitive vulnerability factor), and (3) a significant improvement in mindfulness skills. Mindfulness-based intervention is a promising approach that is used to treat emotional distress and to improve quality of life in AYAC survivors. Further research using randomised controlled trials is needed to generalise these findings.

Paper is available here.


    Coordinating Investigator:

    • Kathleen Van der Gucht, Department of Clinical Psychology, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


    • University Hospital of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


    • Inge De Leeuw, trainer MINDaWARE Foundation

    Our role

    Financial support
    Why we support this trial
    Profit is a low priority in cancer treatment for the Anticancer Fund
    Intervention has little or no commercial value
    The Anticancer Fund aims at no major hurdle for clinical implementation
    No major hurdle for clinical implementation


    Trial cost
    ACF donation
    ACF internal support (2015-2016)
    Questions about this trial?
    The Anticancer Fund
    studies [at] anticancerfund.org


    Van der Gucht, K., et al. (2017). A Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Adolescents and Young Adults After Cancer Treatment: Effects on Quality of Life, Emotional Distress, and Cognitive Vulnerability. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology, 6(2), 307-317 doi:10.1089/jayao.2016.0070Last updated: june 2018.

    Author: Kristine Beckers (Trial Manager)

    Last updated: June 2018.